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Book Review:
Finding Your Perfect Match

Review by Barb Elgin, Online Dating Magazine's Newest Columnist


Finding Your Perfect Match

Pepper Schwartz, PhD

January 2006

Online Dating
Magazine Rating


Finding Your Perfect Match Book Review:
If you are reading this and you are single, I have a simple question to ask:  how will you love yourself today?  If you do nothing else, I'd suggest you pick up a copy of 'Finding Your Perfect Match', the book I'm about to review in this article, and use it in the next few months to jump start your love life!

If you're like alot of singles, today will be - shall I say it diplomatically - challenging?  While being single isn't the 'social crime' it used to be, for many of us, not having a beloved to wake up to on Valentine's day is a stark reminder that we are alone.  And, if we aren't hard enough on ourselves, it doesn't help that others often judge us too, either pitying us, misunderstanding our challenges in living or secretly wondering what's wrong with us.

Well, I want you to know that you are far from alone.  Singles now outnumber marrieds for the first time in recorded history in the United States, and I'll bet this is a worldwide trend, at least in modern cultures.  The good news is that if you are single and relatively happy, you are still better off than being married and unhappy

Let's not forget all of the myriad advantages of being single.  There are a few.  For example, singles are often coveted in the workplace, so, take advantage of that benefit while you can.  And, perhaps most importantly: you are now free to make a new and/or better partner choice for yourself in the near future.  There is power in this freedom to choose, so use it well!  The matchmaking test explained in this article – the Duet Total Compatibility System - will help you get off to a great start!

Barb Elgin's Secret to Lasting Lesbian Love
Today's book review is a great 'preview' to the launch, in March, of my brand new column in Online Dating Magazine!  That's right – ODM now has a resident expert on the subject of lesbian dating and relationships - me!!!  I want to thank Joe Tracy, editor-in-chief, for his trust in me and for bringing the very worthy topic of lesbian dating and relationships to the mainstream.

Right after reading today's article, I want you to make a note on your calendar to check back weekly  to the ODM site because I'll be publishing a fresh new article each week.  For example, next week you'll have a chance to read the latest, hottest trends and news I've dug up on online dating safety.  As a single person, this is really important stuff you need to know, so note it as a 'must read'.

Then, in March, I'll be kicking off my brand new column, called Barb Elgin's Secrets to Lasting Lesbian Love.  The column's focus will be all things related to dating, love and relationships, with a lesbian twist.  To kick off my column, I'll be reporting on recent interviews I completed with nationally known dating and love experts, including the author who wrote the book I'm reviewing today, Dr. Pepper Schwartz. 

So, how did I come to be writing this article for you today?  My interest and experience is two fold:  On a professional level, for over 25 years, my career passion and purpose has been helping lesbian women attract and grow a love relationship that lasts.  For me it is truly a 'labor of love'.  After all, lesbian dating and relating patterns have changed dramatically in the past couple decades or so, just like they have in the heterosexual world.

Secondly, on a personal level, I'm no dummy:  just like you I want to learn what I can to attract and keep lasting lesbian love in my life!  My health and pocketbook may depend on it!  For example, research continues to emerge showing the relationship between the quality of one's love life and overall wellness across a range of life areas – physical, social, financial, emotional, etc. 

And, what I also know is that research looking at heterosexuals far outweighs what has been done on lesbians and it's time for that to change.  It's so frustrating for me when I go looking for research to help my clients when the research I need to be most effective just doesn't exist.  Luckily I've counseled and coached lesbians long enough to have good instincts and ideas on being helpful.  However, many times the suggestions and advice I give to lesbians is based on research on heterosexuals.  How do I know which parts apply and which don't?  No offense, but while there are similarities between lesbian and straight dating and relationships, there are definitely differences too. 

So, I am an advocate for greater equality in the research world, much like I've been an advocate for marriage equality.  There is an emerging specialty in the healthcare community, for example, called 'disparities of care', that evaluates how and where our current system of care is insensitive to the needs of minorities.  So far this specialty has focused on the needs of racial minorities, but I am seeing work starting to emerge in the area of sexual minorities.

Speaking of which, one of the reasons I am so passionate about marriage equality is that most lesbians still can't legally marry, both in the U.S. and in the world, and are thus blocked from experiencing many of the benefits of marriage heterosexuals enjoy and take for granted.  Because we live in a democracy, this is an injustice that must be righted, regardless of individual feelings or religious beliefs.  If you are reading this article and you aren't too keen on gays having the same rights to marry as straights, let's talk about it, in this column. Send me your comments, pro or con and I will address them in future articles.

The Duet Total Compatibility System (created by Dr. Pepper Schwartz) and described in Finding Your Perfect Match is a fascinating, intriguing read with very useful suggestions for those dating to meet their soul mate

I chose to review 'Finding Your Perfect Match' because Dr. Schwartz is one of the most known and quoted dating and relationship experts in the United States.  She's nationally noted for her work as THE relationship advisor at Perfect Match, one of the most successful online dating sites in the world.  And she's also a long time professor of sociology at the University of Washington.  Pepper has appeared many times on all of the big talk shows, including Oprah and Dr. Phil and major media outlets like ABC News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.  She's also the resident relationship expert for the Association for Retired Persons (AARP).  The bottom line is that Dr. Schwartz brings almost 40 years of research experience to the topic.

I believe I first learned of Dr. Schwartz's work reading a psychology text book in undergraduate school!  I rediscovered her a few years ago when searching the internet for dating sites with compatibility systems.  That's when I came across and purchased her book 'Finding Your Perfect Match: 8 Keys to Finding Lasting Love Through True Compatibility'. 

Dr. Schwartz notes early on in the book that the compatibility system she developed with Perfect Match 'shares roots' with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  For those of you who don't know, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a very popular personality test that thousands of corporations use to help their employees work better together. 

According to Perfect Match, the Duet system has been completed and utilized by millions.  If you go to the Perfect Match dating site, you will see that Dr. Schwartz has endorsements from other psychologists who are leaders in the field.  You can also find 'Success Stories' there as well.

The Duet system is the focus of the book and is composed of two broad categories:

  • Eight 'romantic personality' characteristics that helps individuals figure out who they are, what they want in love and who they should choose as a life partner or spouse. 

  • Five major lifestyle factors that most impact the ability of a couple to get along well together, over time: money, sex, children, core values and social life.

Dr. Schwartz believes based on her work that love relationships have the best chance of lasting when both individuals are 'well matched' based on the above 13 factors.  The meat of the book helps you assess your 'love style' and learn how to use what you've learned about your style of loving to choose a partner who is compatible enough to you.

Eight 'romantic personality' characteristics

At the core of the Duet system are the eight romantic personality characteristics.  Theoretically, the more a couple is matched on these eight aspects, the more satisfying and lasting the relationship will be.  On the first four characteristics – romantic impulsivity, personal energy, outlook and predictability – Schwartz has found the partners must be alike or see 'eye-to-eye'.  On the second four factors – flexibility, decision-making style, emotionality and self-nurturing - being dissimilar is key. 

Old adages such as 'opposites attract' and 'the happiest couples are those who are alike' are both true, according to Schwartz.  After explaining these eight characteristics, Part Two of the book (Chapters 3-11), takes the reader through an assessment that helps the reader determine their 'type'.

After taking the assessment, the reader is able to 'type' him or herself.  Chapter 12 may be the most intriguing part of the book.  Here Schwartz suggests 'perfect matches based on differences'.  If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs, the choice of a four-lettered type, such as SDPI or FCPE, will look familiar to you.

The last two sections of the book are also very practical.  In section three Dr. Schwartz delves into those ever-important lifestyle issues – money, sex, parenting, values, and social life – that add additional elements of challenge to even 'perfectly matched' couples.  Schwartz seems to suggest that even the most compatible relationships can 'blow up' due to poorly managed conflicts in any one or more of these areas. 

The book ends with suggestions for searching for a mate and keeping love alive.

What are some of the criticisms of Duet and similar typing systems?

It wouldn't be fair for me to just give you this information without taking a critical eye to it.  One of the critcisms of 'typing' or 'trait-based' tests like the Duet is that many of us aren't 'pure' types.  Like the Myers-Briggs, if that's you, you are typed 'X' on a particular factor.  What do you do if you are an XXXX!?!  ;-)  (I know, call Simon Cowell)....hahaha

In defense of Duet, using it may help you avoid meeting and 'falling for' attractive, but incompatible others, saving you time and heartache.  My gut is that this is because chemistry, which I define as natural, or 'unconscious' attraction, is important but not sufficient by itself to create a lasting relationship.  The problem with chemistry is it's allure and seductive potential.  Chemistry is particularly alluring at the beginning of a relationship, because of the 'novelty' hormones being released in your brain.  Duet may help you counter this danger, as you go through the emotional ups and downs of dating.

Chemistry can also burn low but steady over time and cause people to stay stuck in unsatisfying relationships for years.  As I've worked with Duet, I've realized how 'on the mark' it can often be in terms of explaining my own behavior, when I step back and think about what I think and feel, past successful or unsuccessful interactions with others, etc.

One of the big criticisms against personality testing in general is the ability of the test taker to fake his or her answers.  People have all sorts of unconscious and intentional reasons why they aren't 'truthful' on tests such as the Duet.  Reasons such as wanting to give the test giver what he or she thinks the test giver is looking for or answering more favorably to look good. 

Also – I wonder about the impact of typing myself or someone else.  Am I more likely now to act like my 'type' instead of stepping into future situations with fresh new eyes?

What's the important lesson or 'takeaway' here?  Schwartz' Duet is a valuable tool, however, I would advise using a range of tools in deciding who to marry or make a significant commitment to.  I think Pepper would agree.  Diversify your 'vetting' approach, if you will. 

When assessing your own type, be as accurate as you can be.  Be honest.  Perhaps get feedback from others who know you well when considering your answers to the assessment.  That's especially true for those of us who are less aware of our behavior, thoughts and feelings.  Doing all of the above will hopefully provide you with the most accurate 'reading' you can get. 

And, don't forget, if you are relying on your date or a partner's test results, the same applies.  How honest were they in completing their answers?  How aware are they about their characteristic ways of looking at and navigating the world?

Lastly, if you are already in a committed relationship, use the quiz carefully, if at all.  If it appears from the test that you are poorly matched, and that worries you, be careful about how you use that information.  In fact, you may want to enlist the support of a coach or counselor to handle your concerns.  The best solution is to use the test to understand ways you and your partner can improve your relationship.

All of this brings up the last issue I want to mention – ethics.  All personality tests should be used with care, given their perceived power and accuracy.  No matter what you don't want to take a test too literally and/or hit yourself or someone else over the head with it.

Now that I've 'briefed' you, go ahead and do something nice for yourself today.  Then tomorrow, go and take Schwartz' Duet test.  If you don't have the book, you can go to the Perfect Match website for free and do so.  Have fun and have a positive outlook about what you learn.


For 25 years now, Barb Elgin, MSW, LCSW, Certified Singles Coach, has been discovering the secrets to lasting lesbian love.  Now she wants to share them with you!  To discuss your results on Perfect Match's Duet Total Compatibility System, or you have any other questions or concerns about your love life (or life in general), call Barb and talk to her live on Wednesdays evening from 7-10p ET at 352-347-3577/toll free 866-396-2272.  You can learn more about Barb here – and her email is

Disclaimer: The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.

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